Proustian Developments: The World and Object of Photography


A peculiar trait unites Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag’s famous accounts of photography: both emphasize the anti-Proustian character of the medium. Two versions of the same assertion are presented in Camera Lucida and On Photography, namely that the nature of photography prevents it from being able to provide the experience needed to regain what was lost in time. Curiously enough, in Raoul Ruiz’s film adaptation, Marcel Proust’s Time Regained (1999), photographs are used by the director to set the world of the novel into motion. Does the opening scene, which shows the writer browsing through photographs of the people he used to know, merely present Proust’s documented habit of collecting photographs of the real-life models for his characters, or did Ruiz try to reproduce the mechanism of reminiscence by looking at photographs?

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